Candle-lighting service brings solace amid loss



Everyone in the Marion County area is encouraged to participate in the Compassionate Friends Candle Lighting Ceremony at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11 to honor and remember children who died at any age from any cause.

The candle-lighting is in its 12th year locally and 15th year worldwide, said Melissa Stuchlik, a member of Compassionate Families in Marion.

?Our group has met in churches and in schools, but through April we will be meeting at Thad and Janie Meierhoff?s home, 402 S. Cedar St., Marion,? she said.

Anyone is welcome to attend Sunday?s candle ceremony at the Meierhoff home, she said, or they can light a candle in memory of someone at their own home.

During the ceremony, Stuchlik said the group will read the names of children they have listed.


What makes the lighting ceremony even more unique is how it creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone, she said.

Although the local group is no longer affiliated with the national Compassionate Friends organization, Stuchlik said much of what they do here deals with grieving families.

?It?s common knowledge that after the loss of a child, it can be a difficult time on a marriage,? she said. ?The group gives parents a place to talk about their problems with grief and the physical pain that goes with it.?

Some people may come and share thoughts about a spouse they recently lost, she said, but for most of the members its about children who have died.

?We have four couples meeting on a regular basis, with others visiting on the anniversary of a death or around the holidays,? Stuchlik said.

The event is considered the largest mass candle-lighting ceremony in the world, according to Compassionate Friends organizers.

The idea of lighting a candle Sunday is a quiet remembrance of children who died, but will never be forgotten, Stuchlik said.

Anyone struggling with the loss of a child or loved one is encouraged to visit the group, she added.

?We meet at 7 p.m. the second Monday of every month.?

For more information about the candle-lighting ceremony or the local group, call Stuchlik at 620-924-5793, or Thad and Janie Meierhoff at 620-382-3492 or Riley and Gina Jantz at 620-726-5612.

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